Gov. Tom Wolf wants the legislature to support Ukrainian refugees and to take more action to divest Russian-related assets. He says Pennsylvania's ties to Ukraine run deep. "The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is home to 122,000 Ukrainian-Americans. That's the second highest of any state in the United States," the governor says. Wolf says he backs a Republican bill for the state to divest itself of investments related to Russia and its supporters. He's also asking the legislature to set aside $2 million in state money to help Ukrainian refugees with housing, food, clothing and long-term support.
House Republican leaders are expected to hold a news conference today to outline legislative plans to free up investments made from Russia. Some state-related organizations have already made plans to do so. The public school employees' retirement system unanimously voted to sell its nearly $300 million worth of investments in Russia and Belarus. The state employees' retirement system also voted to divest its Russia-related assets last week. Treasurer Stacy Garrity also announced that the state treasury is selling off nearly $3 million in Russian holdings.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an emergency request from a group of Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to block the commonwealth's new congressional map. The one-page order issued Monday evening, instead keeps the case in front of a panel of three U.S. district judges. Pennsylvania's new 17-district congressional map was picked by the state Supreme Court last month after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly couldn't agree on a map. The Republicans' federal case argued that the state court overstepped and violated the U.S. Constitution in picking a map.
Our area will host a debate among perhaps three Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate this year. Muhlenberg College will host the first Democratic debate Sunday, April 3. St. Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Congressman Conor Lamb will attend. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has not yet committed. The college expects the 75-minute debate to have a live audience and be broadcast.
The owners of four regional Playa Bowls franchises have closed their Easton location. Playa Bowls has been at 16 N. Third St. in Downtown Easton for more than four years. The Lower Nazareth Commons location remains open, as do the other locations on E. 3rd St. in South Bethlehem and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.
Another Wind Creek Steel Stage headliners has been book for this summer's Musikfest. Counting Crows will be at Musikfest on Aug. 8. Tickets go on sale this Friday morning to the general public. Previous Steel Stage acts include Alabama, Willie Nelson, Poison and Kelsea Ballerini.
Pennsylvania has upwards of 5000 abandoned mines statewide and Gov. Tom Wolf says the state is now eligible to receive nearly $27 million in federal money to reclaim them. The funding will be used to continue efforts to close dangerous mine shafts and reclaim unstable slopes. Focus also will be on improving water quality by treating acid mine drainage and restoring water supplies that have been damaged by mining. The nearly $26 million is in addition to the just under $245 million announced by Wolf last month that will come from the federal infrastructure law.
Bill Cosby will remain a free man after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the overturning of his sexual assault conviction in Pennsylvania. Cosby was convicted in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Pennsylvania home in 2004. Constand's attorney released a statement reading, "The U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case is an unfortunate outcome for everyone, especially survivors of sexual assault." The comedian was initially sentenced to three to ten years in state prison. He was released in June of last year after the state's Supreme Court overturning the ruling saying his due process rights had been violated.